- For projection mapping, you just need a subject, a good tool, and a bit of patience to learn the ropes
- Video mapping can be used to create exciting and interactive projects like holograms
- Just like 3D printing, video mapping has a bright future, with real-time face tracking being just an example
- Visit our Video section to find more cool guides
Video mapping, also known as projection mapping or spatial augmented reality, refers to projection technology used to transform or turn objects into display surfaces for projecting videos.
Simply put, it is projection of visual animations on objects or other elements of architecture, like what you see in outdoor events like concerts, parties or major shows, and even gaming.
Such objects can be buildings or other industrial landscapes which are often irregularly shaped, so using the best software for video mapping spatially maps a two or three-dimensional object onto the virtual program, which in turn apes the real environment it will be projected onto.
Artists and advertisers use video mapping to add extra dimensions, notions of movement, or even optical illusions to objects that are or were previously static, to create an audio-visual kind of narrative.
They do this in two phases: manufacturing, where the scenario, modeling, motion graphics, video editing and other processes are created, and then the production phase that adds elements like software, cabling and installation among others.
So, what are the best software solutions for video mapping to use with your PC? Check out our top picks below.
Top 6 software tools for video mapping
MadMapper is probably the best video mapping software tool, thanks to its simplicity. It can be used on the go. Furthermore, the application is powerful, yet versatile, which makes it the ultimate video mapping tool.
With MadMapper, you can map unlimited number of videos on any real life surface with as many projectors your graphic card can handle.
You can also control LED arrays when light mapping, in real-time, and feed these with video content or generative materials, plus control moving lights with pixel content.
MadMapper is backed by a big community so they keep updating the software constantly, which is why it has new features such as a Dark User Interface, live editor to code your own materials and an online library to share the materials.
It also features the miniMAD hardware companion which now controls the light, with automatic network synchronization for multi-projection, and DMX output to control lighting equipment.
Other salient features include an ultra-fast video player, multiple inputs, masking, video effects, mesh warping, 3D Calibration and lighting, soft edge, spatial scanner, LED mapping and much more.
You can use MadMapper software for architectural video mapping, art installation, stage design and live shows.
If you want video mapping but your project needs a lot more, Isadora is the best software for video mapping you can use.
This tool works well with artists, designers, and performers who want to add video and interactive media to their projects, as it combines a media server, visual programming environment and powerful video/audio processing engine for an interactive media playback.
You can create stunning effects in real-time in a user-friendly and easy to learn and use platform, which features 8 HD video playback channels, unlimited video layers, 6 independent video projector outputs, integrated video mapping tool, 4 live camera feeds, custom effects via Open GLSL, built-in video tracking, low latency response to real-time output, and so much more.
One of the great things about it is it lets you generate customization sequences fast, but it is held back by its learning curve and playback performance which reduces frame rates for non-optimized projects.
Mapio is the best software for video mapping if you want to create projection shows, as it not only lets you use a standard screen, but also any inclines like cylindrical and spherical shapes, among others.
Its key features include Spout (Windows) support, two app modes as a plugin or stand-alone app, solid color or gradient for slice, capture broadcasting video streams, snapshots, importing 3D file format support, editable vectors and image masks, tools for splitting masks and slices, edge blending, advanced warping Bezier tool, and so much more.
You can also use undo unlimited times, copy and paste slices or masks, and auto save and recover your project after a crash.
TouchDesigner is a visual programming environment for PC that is free but not for commercial use.
The video mapping software solution gives you tools needed to create stunning, real-time video mapping projects with rich user experiences, whether it’s architectural projections, rapid-prototyping, or interactive media systems.
For video mapping, you can make custom solutions for each project as now two setups are similar.
TouchDesigner’s suit of features and open customization makes each project possible, with multiple solutions to tackle every job, whether small or large in ways that fit each scenario and budget.
Features include tight integration with real-time 3D engine for complete pre-visualization, support for different projection formats for mapping, dome, VR, stitching and environment lights.
The stoner tool is useful for keystoning, grid mesh warping and masking, while the Kantan Mapper helps with 2D mapping and masking which includes Bezier and freeform shapes.
3D is usually the most challenging bit, so TouchDesigner’s CamSchnappr tool for 3D model based projection alignment and calibration comes in handy.
It also supports third party apps like Vioso and Scalable Display’s auto-mapping calibration tools.
HeavyM is one of the best video mapping programs that you can use for live events such as live concerts. It allows you to literally transform any space according to your needs.
The best part is that HeavyM is compatible with all video projectors.
This software solution will work flawlessly, irrespective of the projector model that you’re using.
If you’re running out of ideas, you can simply check out the massive animations and effects library.
There are over 1000 combinations of effects that you can use to impress your audience.
Resolume Arena is a performance suite that caters for video artists, VJs and designers because it has video playback, live editing, VJing and multiple sources which support video mapping as well.
Despite being pricey than other best video mapping software listed here, it is a robust platform with layer based mixing software, and other great features such as faster deck switching, a flexible interface with crisp high-resolution screens, plus you can pick any color you like and map them to follow light changes.
You can also highlight clips, layers, groups, decks or columns with color coding, or rearrange thumbnails and columns to find what you want quickly.
With the Arena tool, you can project video on any type of surface such as complex geometrical structures or whole buildings.
Its edge blending feature lest you project a widescreen image with two or more projectors or wrap around for a 360-degree experience.
You can literally project on anything, from buildings to pumpkins, DJ booths to cars, and LED mapping on giant stages.
Arena also lets you send out colors which will be in sync with your visuals, with real time rendering meaning everything happens on the spot.
This software program can also be integrated with other apps like Spout on Windows, plus you can connect your webcam or capture a high end camera and use images into your mix.
Did your favorite video mapping software tool make the list? Don’t hesitate to share with us your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment in the section below.
What software is used for projection mapping?
Any software application we listed above can be used for projection mapping. You can explore a wide range of creative features and rich libraries.
What is 3D mapping?
3D mapping is used in cartography. It means to measure objects in 3D so that they can be visualized realistically. For 3D mapping, you can use dedicated tools like AutoCAD Map 3D and ArcGIS.
What is the best drone mapping software?
Check out our guide to find out the best free drone mapping tools that you can use on your Windows PC.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.